NJ, NFL announce revised stadium deal
BY JANET FRANKSTON
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
NEWARK (AP) -- Officials from the state, the New York Giants and the New York Jets announced today they've made several changes to an agreement signed last fall that will create a new, $1 billion football stadium in the Meadowlands.
Meanwhile today, the Jets announced the team has selected Florham Park as the new location for its corporate headquarters and practice facility. The team is expected to move from Hempstead, N.Y., in the summer of 2007.
Under the updated stadium agreement, the state would not be required to pay for $30 million of infrastructure costs around the stadium, said Gary Rose, chief of the governor's office of economic growth.
The stadium is expected to open for the 2010 season and will seat about 81,000.
The new stadium agreement comes after Gov. Jon S. Corzine earlier this month questioned the financial terms of the original deal, brokered by his predecessor, former Gov. Richard J. Codey.
The teams would also be allowed to collect money for naming rights to the stadium and the complex as a whole, with the exception of the Continental Airlines Arena and a new entertainment and retail development that is being built there.
The state also would drop its pursuit of a retractable dome for the new arena, Rose said. Team owners had said they would kill the earlier agreement if the state forced them to pay for a roof.
"Governor Codey made a tremendous effort to keep the Giants and Jets in New Jersey and today's announcement confirms the partnership that has been fostered between New Jersey and the teams," Corzine said in a statement. "The stadium that will be built will be a world-class facility that will set a new standard for football venues."
The owners of the teams said in a joint statement that they are pleased with the updated agreement.
"We are very grateful to the governor for recognizing the importance of this project," said Woody Johnson, chairman and chief executive officer of the Jets. "We are looking forward to moving ahead and beginning work on the new stadium as planned."
Andrew Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College who specializes in sports, called the updated agreement a nice compromise.
"Corzine is to be congratulated for getting another bite at the apple," he said.
In a memorandum of understanding signed in September, the Giants and Jets agreed to jointly finance the new stadium at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford.
Another sticking point had been property taxes for East Rutherford.
East Rutherford officials said it was unfair that the original agreement didn't account for the collection of property taxes on the ancillary development the teams are proposing to build: about 520,000 square feet for restaurants, entertainment and retail space around the stadium.
East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella had threatened to take legal action over the property tax issue.
Cassella said the borough has had discussions with state officials in the last few days, but no dollar amount has been agreed to.
Rose said the discussions with East Rutherford are ongoing and the state wants to find a solution.
While the Giants will build their own training facility on a site within the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, the Jets will move to Florham Park, a borough of 12,000 about 30 miles west of Manhattan.
The Jets also considered sites in Jersey City, Wood-Ridge, Berkeley Heights and Millburn.
"After conducting a comprehensive search, we have concluded that the Florham Park site best fits our needs as an organization," Jets President Jay Cross said in a statement.
Florham Park Mayor Frank Tinari said the Jets' offices would be part of a 420-acre development, with housing, offices, a hotel and day care center.
The development must still receive zoning approval from the borough, which should take place over the next two months, he said.